Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium was packed Wednesday night with cowboy hats and tapping boots as Greylan James and Scotty McCreery belted out some of their fan-favorite songs such as “Young Man” and “In Between.”
The concert took place from 7:30-10:30 p.m., and MemAud was filled to the brim with country music fans of all ages. Tickets ranged from $35-55, and merchandise was available for purchase.
Patsy Perry, an Athens local, had a simple reason for attending the concert.
“We like Scotty, and he was in Athens,” she said.
The night kicked off with 26-year-old singer and songwriter, Greylan James. James got his start as a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, earning credits on major records such as “Happy Does” by Kenny Chesney and “If That Ain’t God” by Chris Young.
This was not James’ first time in Athens, as he performed with Jordan Davis in September 2022. He seemed at home on the stage, with a confident stride and clear voice as he interacted with the audience.
“I had a lot of fun in Athens, Ohio,” he said to the crowd. “I had a lot of drinks here in Athens, Ohio. I think y’all have a way of doing that.”
As his set list progressed, James shared an anecdote with the audience, saying there was a bet placed between him and his band on the drive up to Athens from Nashville. He said he was feeling confident about his ability to rap a certain part of a certain song, and if he was able to do it, the band members would buy him shots. If not, shots were on him.
The auditorium buzzed with excitement as James flawlessly sang “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean. Apparently, the ol’ dirt road was what they were all missing because cheers erupted and many attendees jumped to their feet, grooving to the record-breaking hit country song.
Perhaps the most memorable part of James’ performance was his performance of “Next Thing You Know” by Jordan Davis, co-written with James. Flashlights were lifted, arms swaying to the melody. It was clear Davis was moved, staring at the crowd as his lyrics were hauntingly repeated back to him.
After his show, James shared what it meant to him to be back performing in Athens.
“The first time I was here, I opened for Jordan Davis, and I wrote a song with Jordan Davis just a couple of months before I played here with him, and that song went on to be my first CMA nomination,” he said. “I will never forget that moment.”
Proving his devotion to the area, James said he likes to keep up with Ohio football.
“We love MACtion,” he said, laughing with his bandmates.
Next up was the main act, Scotty McCreery. McCreery got his start after winning the 10th season of “American Idol” at only 16 years old. His first on-air audition for the show demonstrated his now signature lower range with Josh Turner’s “Your Man.”
Taylor Peeps, an Athens local, was excited to see McCreery in concert for the second time.
“I’ve seen Scotty McCreery in concert once before, and he was really good,” she said.
His impressive baritone was on full display, with McCreery beginning his setlist with his hit song, “In Between.” It seemed he had the crowd wrapped around his finger, with fans on their feet during his entire performance.
Of course, his love for Athens did not hurt his appeal.
“It’s one of my favorite college towns to come to,” he said. “Y’all got it going on.”
McCreery was not afraid to get personal with the audience, revealing he had just been inducted to the Grand Ole Opry on Sunday, a prestigious honor among country singers. Additionally, he performed his hit song “This Is It,” telling the audience the story about how he wrote it for his wife for his proposal and it was later their wedding song.
In the spirit of the holidays, McCreery sang two Christmas songs, including his song “Feel Like the Holidays” and Elvis’ “Santa Claus is Back in Town.” After a rendition of “Be My Baby Tonight,” McCreery bid the crowd adieu.
An unanswered question hung in the air: was he going to sing his arguably most well-known song, “Five More Minutes?”
Everyone at MemAud let out a collective sigh of relief when McCreery ran back on stage and said, “Are y’all sure y’all want to stick around for five more minutes or so?”
“Five More Minutes” is definitely a tear-jerker, discussing the want to be able to live special moments in one’s life for just five more minutes. McCreery said he wrote this song for his grandfather and got choked up during the lyrics, “At eighty-six my grandpa said, "There's angels in the room // All the family gathered 'round, knew the time was comin' soon // With so much left to say I prayed, Lord, I ain't finished // Just give us five more minutes.”
The mood in MemAud was wistful and pensive as the crowd thought about that special person they would love to just have five more minutes with. Hands were held and hugs were exchanged while all with flashlights lifted toward McCreery.
However, McCreery did not let the crowd depart on a sad note, inviting the band to come back up and perform some classic country songs. From “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash to “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” by Garth Brooks, McCreery took the audience on a journey.
As the mass exodus out of MemAud took place, many concert-goers were discussing how they wished the concert went just a little longer. Perhaps McCreery said it best, “Yeah, sometimes this old life will leave you wishin' // That you had five more minutes.”